Make Sure Your DUI Lawyer Has Professional Affiliations
This is a good starting point to consider a DUI attorney’s “involvement” and “commitment” to the field of DUI defense. What specialized professional membership standing does he or she maintain? Although these memberships are often only a matter of paying certain periodic fees and being admitted as an attorney in some state, affiliation may be indicative of the attorney’s dedication to the field of DUI defense. Also, within certain organizations, lower levels of membership are more a matter of paying the fee, while the top attorneys are often found in special “founding member”, “life member” or similar “special status” categories.
In the DUI defense field, here are some places to examine to determine “proficiency”:
DUIDLA.com – A national directory of DUI-DWI defense attorneys – Like all organizations, some are more experienced and better than others. Always go to that attorney’s State Bar directory to search for any prior Bar discipline.
NCDD.com – National College for DUI Defense, Inc. – The Regents and Fellows (retired Regents) are attorneys with an average of 30 years’ experience who have been invited to join the highest ranks of attorneys. The 100 Founding Members (all Regents were Founding Members) and the later-admitted Sustaining Members are eligible to become a Regent. Sustaining Members must be “recommended” for inclusion within the Sustaining Member echelon by at least a Regent and then “voted in” by the Regents. Generally, the Regents defer to the Regent or Fellow (former Dean of the College) from the proposed Sustaining Member’s state for a “thumbs up”, or not. This group (NCDD) now offers Board Certification of members who are able to pass a grueling written and oral exam about constitutional rights, breath testing, human physiology, field sobriety testing, criminal procedure and the rules of evidence. The regular members are licensed DUI-DWI attorneys in their respective states who pay the regular member’s annual dues, and may be among the best lawyers in their state or may not be among the best in their state. Again, go to YOUR court ahead of time to ASK about the best DUI lawyer. Paying the annual assessment obtains this “regular member” status and proves nothing more than that. Look further for other indicia of “skill” versus merely joining a group that may give the DWI defender a web link or visible credential.
NACDL.org – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – For more than 40 years, the leading national directory of CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS in America. Notice that this covers ALL criminal defense – federal, state, tribal and both felonies and misdemeanors. Many lawyers in this great organization are fine DUI-DWI-OUI-OWI defense specialists, while others take no DUI cases at all. Life Membership signifies dedication to the field of criminal defense, but does not necessarily identify skill level in fighting DUI cases. Dig deeper, and look for other indicia of dedication to this field.
State NACDL affiliates – Many states and even a few large metropolitan cities have formed local affiliate branches of the NACDL. I am a “Life” member of both the GACDL.org and the SCACDL.org (Georgia’s and South Carolina’s state affiliates). However, I have successfully handled thousands of DUI cases in Georgia since passing the Bar in 1976, and NONE in South Carolina, despite passing the Bar in that state in 1990. I merely joined the South Carolina organization and helped fund its start-up out of a sense of loyalty to the exceptional DUI lawyers in that state who invited me to assist in forming the original Founding Members’ seed group in June of 1992. The first SCACDL president was my co-author of “101 Ways to Avoid a Drunk Driving Conviction”, Reese I. Joye of North Charleston, SC, clearly the top DUI lawyer in that state. Certainly, the Life Members or Founding Members of such state organizations are typically among the best in that state.
Martindale.com – Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most widely respected directory of attorneys in America. Their rating of “AV” and/or their Preeminent Lawyers designation signifies excellent reputation and credentials. These designations of attorney quality alone do not mean proficiency in handling DUI cases, but often identify members of the Bar in your state who are deemed by their peers to be among the most ethical and elite in your state. Martindale-Hubbell gives you a good bit of information, including the name of the attorney’s law school.